Summer tips for your dog holiday cottages

Canine Care

Summer tips for your dog

Elianne Reed 30 May 2024

At last, summer is here! It’s time to forget about wet dogs and muddy paw prints, and start planning beach days and balmy evening walks instead. However, as temperatures soar, the season does bring its challenges for our dogs, who require a little bit of extra attention.

According to Vets Now, the average survival rate of heatstroke in dogs is just 50% and can be fatal in as little as 15 minutes, so taking precautions to avoid heatstroke and keep dogs cool in summer is incredibly important. 

As well as gathering our favourite summer dog products to keep Fido happy in the heat, we've teamed up with Dr Emma Scales-Theobald, PhD Veterinary Medicine & Science, who has shared her top tips on how to keep dogs cool in summer. 

Start planning your summer adventures together with a dog-friendly holiday: 

Skip to our top tips for keeping dogs cool in summer:

How to cool your dog down

There are lots of products on the market for keeping dogs cool in summer such as cool coats and cool mats, as well as collars with inserts. Of course, stretching out on a cold stone or marble floor also works a treat! If you're sniffing for more tips on how to keep dogs cool in summer, read through our key health tips below.

Cut their coat with care

A small dog having a haircut at a dog salon/groomers

Dr Emma Scales-Theobald explains "It's important to maintain your dog’s grooming by regularly brushing them during summer months to ensure there is no excess hair. Although it can be tempting to shave a dog with a long/thick coat to keep them cooler, it is best to just keep their coat brushed and groomed instead. This is because the long, curly or double-coated fur will also delay and reduce the environmental temperature reaching your dog’s body."

"It will also help prevent the sun’s rays from reaching and burning your dog’s sensitive skin. If you do decide to clip your dog’s fur for summer, try to leave at least a 1cm in length for some protection."

Also commenting on which dog breeds suffer more in hot weather, Dr Emma said "Dog breeds with a thick double coat, such as Siberian Huskies and Golden Retrievers, can find the hot weather more uncomfortable than short-haired breeds. However, shaving their thick coats will only make them hotter, not cooler."

"Brachycephalic dog breeds, like pugs and English bulldogs, can also suffer due to their flat face making it more difficult for them to breathe and therefore pant efficiently to cool down. Owners need to take extra care of dogs with these characteristics to keep them cool in the summer."

The shade is your friend

A happy-looking Labrador relaxing/panting in the shade

During sunny days outside, it’s important to provide your dog with shade when it gets too hot, particularly during the midday sun. Depending on the temperature, this can mean it's best to avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm. Dr Emma explains which dogs require extra care in the heat, and how you can encourage Fido to relax in the shade.

"Extra care should be taken for elderly dogs, puppies (under 6 months-old), overweight dogs, large breed dogs, and brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs who struggle to pant. On a sunny walk, if your dog is excessively panting, slowing down and wanting to drink more than usual, it’s best to find them some shade and let them cool down."

If your dog is enjoying the sunshine too much, there are ways to encourage your dog to cool off in the shade: 

  • Offer them a cool, refreshing treat such as a frozen carrot, dog-friendly ice cream or ice cubes, or a dog-friendly smoothie
  • Provide a cooling mat
  • Provide puzzle toys to keep them calm but also mentally stimulated in the shade
  • Sit with them in the shade so they don’t feel like they’re missing out on the fun

Know when to walk and when to rest

A small dog dozing on a sofa with his head on a cushion

After a long winter, dogs are ready for uninterrupted adventures and want nothing more than to run with the sun beating down on their fur. However, dogs have evolved to know when to roam and when to rest! We should follow their example by avoiding walks in the midday sun. Dr Emma explains what precautions dog owners should take when exercising Fido in the heat. 

"On sunny days, it’s best to avoid walking your dog in the sun between 11am and 3pm. But during hot weather, it’s recommended to walk your dog early in the morning or late in the evening – the coolest points of the day."

"It’s best to keep to a gentle walk so that your dog doesn’t get too hot. This will also help you to determine if your dog is panting from the heat and in turn, not exercising. If the temperature is over 25-30°C, depending on your dog, it might be safer to only walk your dog very briefly, keep to your garden, or not walk at all during a heatwave."

"Instead, you could play with your dog at home to give them the mental stimulation they need. But keep to low-intensity puzzle games such as hide-and-seek, puzzle feeders, or training to avoid your dog getting hot."

Watch out for hot pavements

A small dog walking on the lead with its owner on a pavement on a sunny day

We asked Dr Emma to explain how hot pavements can affect a dog's paws, and what precautions can be taken for keeping dogs cool in summer during road-side walkies. 

"Pavements can absorb and retain the heat from the sun more easily, particularly newer, darker pavements. This can make them painful and uncomfortable for dogs to walk on in sunny weather. The pavement can become so hot that it can even burn the pads on a dog’s paws."

"The air temperature, wind, humidity and strength of the sun, can all influence the pavement’s temperature. Therefore, to assess whether the pavement is too hot for your dog to walk on, test the temperature using the back of your hand. If it’s too hot for you to keep the back of your hand on it for at least seven seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws."

Ideally, it’s best to avoid walking your dog on warm pavements in hot weather, and instead, stick to natural surfaces such as grass and trails, which remain far cooler."

Keep your dog hydrated

A labrador drinking water from its owner’s bottle and hand

A constant supply of clean, fresh water, whether at home or on the road, is a must. If you're lucky, you'll come across pooch-friendly establishments that provide bowls of water for passing dogs, but remember when walking in the country or hills, that it could be miles before the next running stream, so always take a collapsible bowl and supply of water with you!

Dr Emma describes how dog owners can encourage their furry friends to drink more water.

"If you’re struggling to get your dog to drink enough water, offer it to them in a new/different bowl. You could also try adding water to their meals, giving them some frozen treats, or offering them some water-filled, dog-safe fruits such as mango, cucumber and watermelon." 

"If your dog is happy in the heat and healthy, then cooler treats like ice cubes can be great for your dog to enjoy and a fun way to cool them off. You could also add a couple of ice cubes to their water bowl to prolong the time the water stays cool. Your dog may also enjoy chasing it as it slides and melts on the floor!"

Watch out for heatstroke in your dog

A playful dog rolling around in a field on a sunny day

During the summer months and hotter days, it's important to watch out for signs of heatstroke in your dog, particularly when out on walks. Dr Emma highlighted some of the key signs of heatstroke in dogs:

  • Lethargy
  • Lack of coordination
  • Purple gums
  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive amounts of drool 
  • Flushed, red skin
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 

"If you think your dog has heatstroke, attempt to cool them with room temperature/cool water – not ice-cold water – focusing on their belly. It’s important to seek veterinary attention right away." 

"If you’re going on holiday, be prepared with emergency contacts of local vets and know their location in advance. This is particularly important when holidaying or walking somewhere rural, where you may have a poor phone signal"

Watch your dog's diet

A small dog lying next to its food bowl full of dog biscuits

Summer may mean lots of treats for us, but our dogs need to keep to a proper routine with their diet. You may find that your dog eats less in the summer – while this may be good for the pooch who needs to lose a few pounds, do speak to your vet if this continues or is accompanied by fatigue.

Do not be tempted to give your dog human food unless it is something that they can eat, and be sure that any children look out for their doggy pal when playing outside – tell them not to leave their food about, especially chocolate, which can be fatal for dogs!

For any canines reading this though, there is light at the end of the tunnel! Summer is the perfect time to try out some cool dog treats. Some companies sell special doggy ice creams and dog-friendly drinks so that you can enjoy a snack with your human while avoiding tummy problems. 

You can also tell the humans to make some treats at home for you. An ice block or ice cubes are a popular choice – get them to pour a little chicken stock over them for a particularly scrumptious snack. Take a look at our recipes for homemade dog treats for more inspiration. 

Be beach aware

A golden retriever looks happy lying on a sandy beach with the sea behind

Over time, the pads on dogs' paws have adapted to withstand various types of surfaces; taking your dog on blistering, hot sand (or tarmac) where they will have no choice but to walk can cause painful burns. Leave the beach for cooler days and even then, pack a beach umbrella with you as your dog will need access to the shade.

If your pooch loves a paddle in the sea, be wary of them swimming too far out, as currents can be deceiving. If this happens, do not try to rescue your dog as in many cases, they will eventually swim to safety and you could be the one in trouble. When you get home, brush out any sand from your dog’s coat and wash and dry their paws, especially in the hidden areas between the toes.

Take a look at our favourite dog-friendly beaches across the UK to find a beach where your dog is welcome all year round.

Preparing for car journeys with dogs

A dog sat in a travel dog cage in the boot of a car during a road trip

When out and about, never leave your dog in the car, even for a few minutes. Cars heat up extremely quickly, even if you park in the shade or with the window open. And when it comes to setting off on your dog-friendly road trip and you're wondering how to keep dogs cool in summer whilst in the car, Dr Emma is on hand with her top tips. 

"When travelling with your dog during a hot day, it’s important to factor in ways to keep your dog cool. You must have enough water for your dog and something for them to drink out of, like a collapsible travel dog bowl."

"During road trips with your dog, factor in regular rest stops to enable your dog to cool off in some fresh air. When in the car, make sure the air conditioning is on or a window is cracked for them, and that the airflow reaches them. You could potentially add a cooling mat for them to lie on, both in the car and when out on adventures."

"Some dogs may enjoy wearing a cooling vest or cooling bandana. If travelling on a train, sit Fido in the shade and try to reserve a seat in the main carriage – vestibules are not as well ventilated or air-conditioned and can get hot."

Flea and tick prevention

A dog receives flea and tick treatment on the back of its neck

Now, as much as we love our canine chums, we don’t want to share our houses with their little friends! Make sure you regularly treat your dog for fleas, ticks and worms; there are lots of spot-on and oral treatments available, just talk to your vet to make sure that you are covered for all of them. 

Remember that on holiday, your dog will be excited to discover new places, especially woodland and fields with livestock and long grasses which can be home to many little critters – especially ticks. Make sure that you treat your pet before you go away and always check them after a walk, especially around the ears, eyes and legs.

Dog I.D.

A dog sits for a photo with an I.D. tag around its neck

As a last note, do make sure that your dog’s microchip details are up to date in case they decide to take an unplanned wander about. 

You will need to check that the microchip database has a record of the mobile phone number that you have with you, and be sure that your furry friend has a collar and tag with your contact details on it at all times.

Join our Canine Club

Join our Canine Club

As well as access to more canine care advice and a growing community of dog lovers and adventurous hounds, our Canine Club provides exclusive discounts from a long list of fantastic doggy brands. 

Sign up today to join the club and get all the inspiration you need for your upcoming summer adventures.

Book a dog-friendly cottage this summer

Now you know how to keep dogs cool in summer, it's time to start planning your poochy getaway. 

Click the button below to search our full range of dog-friendly cottages. With dog-friendly retreats for couples, families, groups of friends and even solo travellers, we're confident that you'll find the pawfect property in our collection. 

Dr Emma Scales-Theobald PhD MSc

Dr Emma Scales-Theobald PhD MSc

A canine behaviour and nutrition consultant who provides regular expert advice to Canine Cottages on the subjects of canine health and behaviour. She holds a PhD in Veterinary Medicine and Science from the University of Surrey, as well as an MSc in Animal Behaviour from the University of Exeter.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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